Do you get seven to nine hours of sleep every night? If you do, you may be part of a small number of people who do. The more likely scenario is that you hope to get that much sleep on the weekend or whatever days you have off from your employment. However, even then, you may have family or other obligations that keep you from getting enough sleep regardless of what day of the week it is.
The point is that you may suffer from sleep deprivation to some extent. You may turn to caffeine, nicotine or some other stimulant in order to get through your day. When you get behind the wheel of your vehicle, you may not be at your best, and it could affect your ability to drive safely. Now, imagine that the majority of drivers you share the road with are in the same position.
Are some people more prone to drowsy driving than others are?
While anyone who doesn’t get enough sleep could prove dangerous on Virginia’s roadways, a large portion of sleep-deprived individuals share one or more of the following common characteristics:
- Working the night shift
- Working rotating shifts
- Working 60 hours a week or more
- Being young, particularly a man under the age of 26
- Driving many hours for business
- Suffering from jet lag
- Suffering from an undiagnosed and/or untreated sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea
- Working as a long-haul truck driver
- Taking medications with sedative properties
- Working primarily as a shift worker and having more than one job
All of the above increase your risk of causing an accident due to sleep deprivation and fatigue. Even though you would probably prefer to get the recommended amount of sleep, your life may not allow it, at least on occasion. Stimulants may help for a short time but will wear off rather quickly. Rolling down the windows, turning up the radio and other supposed ways to stay awake don’t really work. Taking even a short nap before driving could save your life.
What can you do about drowsy drivers?
Unfortunately, the only drowsy driver you can do anything about is you. Even if you take as many precautions as possible to avoid driving when you haven’t had enough sleep, you can’t control other drivers. If you end up in an accident with a sleep-deprived driver or, worse, one who fell asleep at the wheel, you could end up suffering severe injuries. If so, you could end up with a significant recovery period and substantial financial losses.
You may be able to pursue compensation for those losses by filing a personal injury claim against the other driver and any other parties who may bear some legal liability for the accident.